HP CEO: Apotheker Out, Whitman In

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HP, now with more CEO craziness!HP CEO Leo Apotheker is out of work after only 11 months with the company and was replaced by Meg Whitman on Thursday. Ms. Whitman has served on HP’s board of directors, was previously eBay CEO, and unsuccessfully campaigned to be Governor of California.

Mr. Apotheker’s ties to HP are being completely severed since he is also stepping down from his roles as HP’s president and director of the company. Ray Lane was bumped from non-executive chairman to executive chairman of the company’s board of directors, too.

Mr. Apotheker’s departure came amid controversy over his announcements that the company was planning to spin off its lucrative PC business to focus on being a software and service company. He also axed webOS and the company’s TouchPad tablet after only 49 days on the market, along with its webOS-based smartphones.

The company has since cut a few hundred jobs from its webOS team, calling into question the money HP spent to buy Palm. When HP bought the former champion of the PDA market, it acquired the company’s webOS and smartphone product line, and used the talent to build the TouchPad as a potential rival to Apple’s iPad.

Word that Mr. Apotheker was out and that Ms. Whitman was taking over leaked out ahead of HP’s official announcement, and this isn’t the first big leak in recent months. Information about the proposed PC business spinoff surfaced ahead of a presentation by Mr. Apotheker’s, as did word that the TouchPad and webOS were getting the axe.

Ms. Whitman will be holding a company-wide presentation on Friday presumably to discuss her plans for HP and her role as the new CEO.

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It will be interesting to see if any of Mr Apothker’s decisions are either reversed or modified.

Ross Edwards

Turns out the guy had a $25m golden parachute, too.  Must be nice.  I’d have gladly screwed up HP for 11 months for only half that much money.

(yeah yeah, I know, it’s not as simple as the number looks, etc etc.  it still fails the headline test.)


I?d have gladly screwed up HP for 11 months for only half that much money.

True enough. I think many people would happily fail for $25M.

Lee Dronick

Turns out the guy had a $25m golden parachute, too.? Must be nice.? I?d have gladly screwed up HP for 11 months for only half that much money.

Was there an incentive for him to do well, to make the business prosperous? “Okay, if you make the business a success we will give you some HP swag. If you fail we will kick your butt out with only $25,000,000 to help you get out of town.”


Who gets to fire the Board of Directors?  It seems the HP board screwed up every time the picked someone outside the HP family.  Like the new guy at Nokia who took over the replace the “flaming platform”.  It seems the boards have huge powers over employees and customers in exchange for coffee and donuts a few times a year.  Go TouchPad!


Here’s another executive with a similar worldview to most corporate executives (i.e. there’s too much government regulation, government needs to protect corporate overseas interests, despite US taxes being too high, because sending jobs overseas is the American way, and can we get a government subsidy / tax-break because we’re a big corporation and business is too hard?).

That’s somewhat different to Jobs’ attitude at Apple. It should be interesting to see if she can succeed where Hurd and Apotheker came up short.  Was the HP board seeking someone more like themselves? They’ve agreed to some strange decisions the past few years. Shouldn’t they be fired too?


For an interesting analyses of HP’s board Check out this article.

John Dingler, artist

Rightwinger Fiorina cut and slashed at HP, but at least she had the foresight to know that it’s useless to compete against Apple’s gadgets by selling the iPod under the HP brand, then got fired for spying on people. Hurd cut and slashed, then got fired for some sort of alleged sexuality which reflected badly on HP. Apotheker got fired for misunderstanding what HP was about, and then flailing with HP’s properties.

Now HP hired Whitman after failing at her run for the Calif. governorship. Having spent millions to Jerry Brown’s thousands, she could not overcome undermining her own campaign. The incompetency for this high-powered former CEO of eBay was surprising but tragically funny. In one of her speeches/pres releases, she said that she wanted to restore the Calif. economy to the high level of prosperity it had in the ‘70s and early ‘80s. Heh. It runs out that Jerry was governor of CA from 1975-83. People figured they not need Whitman to govern CA like Jerry Brown when the latter Brown is on the ballot. The most epic of fails.

She ran her campaign, in part, on the faulty Rightwinger logic that businesspeople would make for more capable public administrators, presumably than those already experienced in public office. However, her optimum business expertise failed to help her win the office, clearly demonstrating how faulty the logic was in her case.

So, now we can play with that Rightwing logic by using it against her. By accepting the position of CEO of HP, the implication is, in part, that her spending like a Liberal on her campaign for the state’s top public office and losing, getting no ROI, this does not prepare her to succeed at HP where she’s expected to employ fiscal conservative strategies to produce high ROI.

Ross Edwards

The incompetency for this high-powered former CEO of eBay was surprising but tragically funny.

Disagree with her politics all you like and you’ll hear no dissent from these quarters, but as an erstwhile and occasional heavy eBay seller, I can tell you that things were much, much better with Whitman at the helm.  The way eBay is now, sellers practically have to beg to be allowed to give their inventory away to a fussy, fickle buyer who is welcome to change their mind at any time or even misuse and break the product and insist upon a full refund—which the seller can’t even refuse.

John Dingler, artist

Hi Ross,
Well, if I am reading you correctly, you are making the implied case that her Ebay’s apparent success under her generalship—which does not mean that her initiatives were responsible—bodes well for HP’s future under her newfound generalship. Hey, you could be right.

However, I was merely using corpo. Rightwing logic as ammo against HP’s and spendthrift Whitman’s success.

And, as an aside, it’s unlikely that Whitman’s success would reach the level of Jobs/Cook’s, but I am sure that the HP board wants nothing less. I mean, would the group say, “OK Ms. Whitman, now that we fired Apotheker, we’ll be satisfied with being second or third to Apple?” Proof is to think of what would happen if Whitman became CEO of Apple. I believe that her inherent leadership methods and vision would depress all of Apple’s segments.

I want HP to succeed on the level of nostalgia, but not enough to top Apple. However, because of her hateful, personal politics toward the poor, I want millionaire Whitman herself to fail as a person, and big time because the US needs less people like to rise to top positions.

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